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Tips to ENHANCE Performance of your computer!

There are quite a few GOOD sites about how to increase the performance of your PC to crunch data faster.  Some of them are REALLY easy, and very effective.  I have a Pentium I 166MMX, and running the GUI screensaver version took 300hrs!!! Simply changing the settings in SETI and control panel to background only mode with screensaver OFF reduced it to only 60 hours!  Changing from the GUI verion to the CLI version with SETISpy and SETI Driver down to 48hrs!

This guide below will give you some of the information you need to know to get crunching faster.  For those REALLY keen there are some further links that you can read up on.  Most of the tips found here are for Windows, but some of the links are for Mac, Unix etc.

If you have any further questions feel free to drop me an email to, post them on our SETI FORUM, or fill in our "Contact Us" form.

Tips for those running the GUI Screensaver Version.

(big thanks to N. Rieck for these tips)

Tips Overview:
There is nothing wrong with the GUI version, it is just not THE FASTEST (the CLI version IS much faster ... see below).  But it is pretty, easy to install, and with these few easy tweaks you can crunch fairly fast.  The SETI@Home client program will run as fast as possible if it doesn't show any graphics AND has minimal competition from other programs. The following help DRAMATICALLY:

MUST DO (Save up to 60%)
If you've got a fast machine (over 400MHz), then always let the SETI@Home run in the background. From the open "SETI@Home client display window":
click "Settings"
click "Preferences"
click "Data Analysis"
check "Data Analysis Always Runs"
click "OK"

MUST DO (Save up to 60%)
Disable all screen savers including SETI@Home. From "Windows Task Bar", do the following:
click "Start"
click "Settings"
click "Control Panel"
click "Display"
click "Screen Saver"
click on "Screen Saver:" drop down menu and select "Blank Screen" or "None"
click "OK"

  • a screen saver will waste CPU cycles and will also hammer the L2 Cache every time the OS allows it a time slice to run. (tens to hundreds of times per second)
  • be sure to repeat this procedure every time you download an updated SETI client. It will always change the screen saver setting back to SETI@Home.

MUST DO (Save up to 60%)
Only run the "SETI@Home Client" in a collapsed window so...

  1. the system won't waste CPU time updating the analysis graph
  2. the performance won't be constantly hammered by the SETI graphing routines.
    note: this info is still valid even if you've got a graphics accelerator card

Optional (Save 4-10%)
If a virus shield is enabled to constantly run in the background...

  1. then set "What to scan" to "Program Files only" so the virus detector won't slow down the SETI Client every time the client writes to the results file.
  2. make sure that all incoming data (via floppy, email or download) is fully scanned (select "all files" and also enable "scan compressed files")
  3. but never turn off virus checking

Optional (Save a little bit)
Pause the Task Scheduler (or disable all the scheduled tasks associated with it). Not available in Win95
Failure to do this may cause the following scheduled jobs to interfere with the SETI@Home client:
  1. "Maintenance-Defragmenter programs" (usually runs once a week)
  2. "Maintenance-Disk cleanup" (usually runs once a month)
  3. "Maintenance-Scandisk" (usually runs once week)
  4. "Windows Critical Update Notification" (usually runs once every 5 minutes)

Optional (Save a little bit)
If you have MS-Office installed then consider finding and deleting the program "Findfast.exe". This program will run occasionally in the background to maintain an index of every file on the disk. It also seems to cause the SETI@Home client to occasionally stop with a "FileOpen" error. BTW, it must be deleted while your system is in DOS mode.


Tips for those running the CLI Version.

Tips Overview:
The Command LIne version (CLI) is significantly faster than the GUI version.  I have estimated that it is 10% faster than the GUI version running with screensaver off in background mode.  That said it is slightly more difficult to set up, but once you have it set up you will be crunching with the best of them!

It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you run the CLI version with the two addons SETI Spy and SETI Driver.  For information about what SETI Spy and SETI Driver do go to the "Recommended SETI addon Programs".

Once you have downloaded ALL 3 programs, simply follow the instructions in our very own Setting up the CLI, Spy and Driver instructions.

Other than that the tips for the CLI version are all to do with Bios settings, Over-clocking CPU settings, Registry tweaks etc... and they can be found below in the EXPERTS section.


In-depth Tweaking for EXPERTS only CAUTION - Some of these tweaks can REALLY MESSUP your system if you do them wrong.

These links have some GREAT tweaks, but to be honest NEARLY ALL of them are for the crazy HARDCORE only.  Personally I don't mess around with too many of them, but some of you may want to.  Tweaks for All OS's.  You will have to work out what is good and what is outdated as some of them are quite old suggestions. - a detailed list of tweaks going from simple to hardcore. - a good list tweaks, some of which are a bit old, but most of which are relevant.